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Natalie's Everyday Heroes: Madeline Gianforte, founder of CORE El Centro

NOW: Natalie’s Everyday Heroes: Madeline Gianforte, founder of CORE El Centro

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Getting a massage or an acupuncture treatment may sound like a day at the spa, but the founder of CORE El Centro in Walker’s Point believes everyone should have access to natural, affordable healing. Madeline Gianforte has made it her life’s mission to make alternative medicine accessible to everyone.

“I think we take better care of our cars than we do ourselves,” Gianforte said, as she explained her the mission.

“Why not provide people with an alternative health care option,” she said. “An option that deals with the body, mind and spirit.”

That’s what she’s been doing at CORE El Centro for the part of 20 years, providing alternative health care and healing options.

“Things like massage, energy work, acupuncture, holistic exercise classes, like yoga,” Gianforte said as she listed off the services provided at the center.

But there’s an important twist at CORE El Centro. They work hard to keep their price affordable, through fundraising and writing grants.

“Because if it's $50, $70, $75 for a session, people aren't going to do it,” she said. “So everybody pays something, but they pay what's affordable to them.”

CORE El Centro will serve 3,500 people this year and 70% of CORE’s clients are Hispanic. Gianforte said her co-founder, Jane Ader, initially worked in a medical clinic serving the Latino community.

“We knew we wanted to provide the service to the Latino community, because the community is so open to natural healing, so it made it an easy start for us,” Gianforte said. 

Madeline Gianforte

Gianforte was inspired through her work as a Catholic sister with the Sisters of St. Agnes. She went back to school to get her Master’s Degree in Holistic Health Education.

During a recent visit, the sounds of young children laughing could be heard down the hallway at CORE. The idea of taking care of yourself starts young here. There are ballet classes for children, and education on cooking and eating for better health.

Sonia Vasquez is the Wellness and Nutrition Program Manager.

“This is a very stressful time for most people in this community,” Vasquez said.

Vasquez thinks Gianforte understands that stress people have in their lives, and she provides a supportive environment where people can grow.

“She allows all this stuff, and to empower us to be creative and open and we are always having opportunities to create new things,” Vasquez said.

Her clients learn to use herbs, medicinal plants and foods to improve their own health.

“What I have noticed the most is that they are very amazed and kind of like in disbelief sometimes about how much their is to learn,” Vasquez said.

Gianforte said she’s always learning, too.

“Everyday, I'm inspired by the clients, and their courage to work their stories,” Gianforte said.

It makes CORE El Centro a place where play, relaxation and self-care aren’t a luxury, but a necessity, regardless of your income.

“Because if we all come from our best selves, I believe world peace would be possible,” Gianforte said with a smile.

For more information on CORE El Centro, you can visit https://www.core-elcentro.org/.

If you’d like to nominate someone for Natalie’s Everyday Heroes, send Natalie an email at nshepherd@cbs58.com. We’d love to hear about someone doing good work in your community.

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